Knowing and Loving God

God created human beings to hunger for cherished relationships with each other and with Him. Intimacy is one of the key ingredients for this successful connection.

 

We can know about one another and about God in a superficial sense that does not involve romance or the heart. “Knowing” in its simplest form only involves a head knowledge.

 

In contrast, in the garden the first couple experienced a deep, close unity and fellowship with God and with one another. They enjoyed an unfathomable friendship, a kinship of belonging to God and each other.

 

As our Father God, our Bridegroom and our Good Shepherd, the Trinity cares for all of our intimacy needs. We trust God with our life and we look to Him to provide for all of our essential aspects of life.

 

As a couple, we experience a union of one flesh; as authentic Christians we enjoy a state of oneness with the Trinity that is similar to that which Jesus enjoyed with our Father and His Spirit.

 

Intimacy does not occur automatically. It takes focus, planning and purposeful time spent in each other’s presence. We make the time in our busy life to spend quality time with both God and our spouse.

 

We even make space in our schedule for us and our spouse to spend time together with God. We share in times of being led by God’s Spirit. We thrill at these special moments of intimacy with God both singly and as a couple.

 

We rejoice with each other as we experience divine appointments together and as individuals. We encourage one another to walk in the Spirit and not to rely on our flesh and human reason in making decisions and in our daily walk through life.

 

Rather than living by our human skill and superficial wisdom, we individually, and as a couple acknowledge God and seek His will for us in each moment of every day (Proverb 3:5-6). We love God with our whole body, soul and spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us to spend large amounts of our time seeking more intimacy with You and getting to know You more deeply than ever before. Help us to make our time with You and our spouse as the focus of our purpose in life. We put our service in Your Kingdom, our career, our extended family, our vocation, our hobbies, etc. as lesser priorities when compared to spending quality time as Your child and as a spouse.

 

Help us to communicate to You and our spouse that we value our relationship with both of You as the most important relationships that we enjoy in this life. Teach us that when we get our priorities lined up with Your Word, we enjoy more serenity, success and fulfillment than we ever thought possible on this side of heaven.

 

Thought for the Day:

True Love is more of an action than a feeling; and as long as we have breath, we can serve one another and God with His agape, unconditional love.

 

 

God in Our Heart Break and Disappointment

When we trust in people, we invariably feel disappointed at one time or another. People are human and cannot meet our expectations all of the time, nor can they meet all of our needs.

 

At times, we even feel like God let us down. He allows an illness, a death, a separation, a heartbreak, etc., that we counted on Him to prevent. These issues traumatize and radically change our life, and we blame God.

 

These two truths cause us to build walls around our heart to prevent future hurt. We attempt to control life in order to keep more trauma from entering our sphere of the world.

 

This ends up thwarting God’s ultimate plan for our life. We stubbornly dig in our heels and refuse to allow Him to budge us into the way, which He knows is in our best interest (Hebrews 4:15).

 

We live in a downward spiral, getting dizzier by the moment, because in our human understanding, we lack God’s wisdom concerning our future. Yet, through our times of rebellion and protective maneuvering, God sees us and calls us to yoke up with Him (Genesis 16:13).

 

He encourages us to place all of our burdens on Him, because He really does deeply care about every facet of what we are facing each moment of every day; and to take His yoke upon us, which is light, rather than the yoke of our own making, which is heavy and overwhelming (1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 11:29).

 

God puts us in His Body to offer us companionship and encouragement during our times of trial (Hebrews 3:13). We point one another to Christ and His truth, exhorting each other to keep from wallowing in self-pity and self-centeredness.

 

We are never really alone in our suffering and trials. God abides in us and walks with us through every one of them – even those we cause by our attitude or behavior. He shines His light in our darkness (Ephesians 1:18).

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us to give testimony of times when we forgave others for letting us down and You forgave us and showered our life with Your blessings (Matthew 6:14). Jesus is our divine example of forgiveness as He hung on Calvary’s cross and looked down on His persecutors (Luke 23:34; Hebrews 12:3).

 

As we mature spiritually, we learn that the devil constantly seeks to devour Your Saints and to sidetrack us or derail us from following hard after You (1 Peter 5:8-9). Help us to see the need to walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15-20), alert and present in each moment of time, because of spiritual warfare that rages all around us (Daniel 10:13).

 

Thought for the Day:

When our burdens are overwhelming, and Satan is working overtime to discourage us, the encouragement and sympathy from our fellow members of Christ’s Body will go a long way to affirm that “this too shall pass” and that we can persevere through the ability and power of Christ in us.

– 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Philippians 4:13

 

 

God’s Everlasting Arms

Our whole being finds fulfillment only in the everlasting arms of our Lord God. His love is better than anything that life on this earth provides (Psalm 63:3); and we cannot help but lift up our hands in praise to Him as we glorify Him with our every thought, word and deed.

 

Through His salvation, He satisfies our soul and makes us secure in this sin-filled world (Psalm 23:3-4; 63:1-5). Our spirit is no longer dead in sin, but dances through life, alive in Christ forevermore. We bathe in His love, rest in His peace and sing because of His joy in us, as He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

 

Our fellowship with Him is in perfect and complete harmony and unity due to His mercy, love and grace (1 John 4:19). We walk in His light and enjoy fellowship with His Body now and throughout eternity (1 John 1:7).

 

Clinging to our pride and rebellion, our addictions and our insecurities only brings us trouble and devastation; but surrendering all to Jesus gives us the faith and security to thrive in this war-torn world.

 

When we reach out to Jesus, turn away from our sinful lifestyle and submit to His authority in our life, we find satisfaction and healing in His love. God heals our pain associated with all of our relationships, even those filled with disappointment and trauma.

 

He helps us to humble our self and to reconcile with those in our life that caused us pain. We forgive one another and bless each other with God’s encouragement and love.

 

God’s perfect love is what our soul longs for and that which heals our broken heart and drenches us like a waterfall in this discouraging and broken society. We live as sojourners and pilgrims until He is ready to take us home with Him for eternity.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You created us so that our eyes are the windows of our soul. We often answer glibly when someone asks us how we are, because we know they do not really have time to hear our honest answer, nor are most of them concerned with how we really feel. Help us to look into each other’s eyes and to see the true feelings emanating from them, to take time to really listen, and to show concern and ask how we may help to improve each other’s lot in this life.

 

Remind us that we have to start by taking a searching inventory of our self in order to understand exactly how we do feel. What does our spirit need to grow in Your grace? How is our body and soul – our thoughts and feelings, which affect our choices? You are patient with us, and Your kindness is everlasting. You love us beyond words. You strengthen us and shower us with so many blessings that those who know us stand in awe of You (Psalm 86:15).

 

Thought for the Day:

Our success in this dark and pain-filled life is to trust in God alone to help us to live victoriously over the evils present all around us; as we call on Him to empower us, so that we can keep a daily, vigilant watch over our body, soul and spirit; this enables us to live serenely in His everlasting arms.

 

 

A Good Marriage – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down

When we go to bed angry, those emotions seep into our subconscious mind and continue to affect our feelings toward one another, even when the incident is over and past.

 

Our mate may have forgotten an important milestone in our relationship, broken a promise made to us, let us down, treated us with unkindness, taken us for granted, ignored us and gave others the attention we needed, showed more chivalry to an acquaintance than to us, said some harsh words to us that were unwarranted, etc.

 

I am wondering if we always act perfectly, or if we need some grace and forgiveness at times as well. Our mate may tolerate a great deal more negative behavior or attitudes from us than we realize.

 

We have a choice to let Agape love rule in our relationship or to allow Satan’s lies to blow an incident up out of proportion and rob us of the love God has for us from our mate.

 

Even if the event reaps dire consequences that affect us as well as them, we are faced with the choice to forgive. The alternative is to nurture resentment, but that will only serve to defile everything in our relationship (Hebrews 12:15).

 

It is better to find time to journal our feelings; to pinpoint the exact issue causing our hurt or anger; and then to ask our mate for some quality time to logically discuss the issue, when our emotions are not raw and before it has time to embitter us.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us not to allow our time to get swallowed up by chatting with friends or relatives on the phone, emailing, messaging or texting via social media, etc.; so that we neglect each other. Sometimes we give our vocation, pets, friends or children more attention than we give to one another. Help us to stop taking each other for granted.

 

Remind us that if we expect our love and our marriage to last, we can change a few of our habits to include each other in the inner circle of our thoughts and activities. Give us creative ideas to show love to one another, such as: before one of us falls asleep, we can always spend at least 15 minutes together snuggling and chatting with each other. Let us see that this will give us the time to catch each other up on our concerns, talk about family issues that need resolution, or inform each other about important future events or our deepest feelings.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we frequently communicate what we appreciate in one another, encourage each other through hard times and disappointments, or just stare into each other’s eyes as we kiss each other good night, we strengthen the love that we feel for one another.

 

 

A Comedy of Errors

 

One fine December 26th day, God moved my husband and me from pastoring Bonita Springs First Baptist Church in Florida to Valier First Baptist Church in Illinois.

 

In the ensuing weeks we proceeded to get moved in to the new parsonage; change banks, addresses and insurance companies; and to get a new tag for our van and driver’s licenses for each of us.

 

Since most of our mail is sent in my husband’s name, I had a bit of trouble proving my new address. Once I jumped that hurdle, I went to the driver’s office again and discovered that the copy of my birth certificate that I used all my life was no longer valid.

 

Therefore, I came home and sent an envelope stuffed full of paperwork proving that I am me, along with a check to pay for the new birth certificate, to the New Jersey office of birth records.

 

An envelope came in the mail a few weeks later, with no birth certificate and a request for a copy of my driver’s license. Too funny, right? Since I could not get an Illinois driver’s license without a valid New Jersey birth certificate.

 

I took a chance and remailed all of the paper work along with a copy of my Florida driver’s license; and a few weeks later, my crisp new birth certificate, sporting the raised seal that the driver’s license office wanted to see, came in the mail.

 

Grabbing my briefcase, we headed down to the office to discover that there were 25 people ahead of me and the estimated wait time was 2.5 hours.

 

We left the office for the third time in seven months and my husband recommended that we leave my paperwork in the glove compartment of the car, so we could drop in to the office when there were fewer people in line, which I did.

 

Over the next few days, we drove by the office on the way to nursing home and hospital visits to see our church family members.

 

One day, there were very few cars in the parking lot, so we took a chance. There were only five people ahead of me and we giggled in delight.

 

When the clerk called my number, I proudly proceeded to the counter and showed off my starched new birth certificate and all my other paperwork to the smiling emissary of the government.

 

She said, “This is all good. Now I just need your current Florida driver’s license.” I hung my head and started to cackle. She stared at me in shock, and I had to admit that I left home without my purse that morning and I did not have my current license.

 

Well, of course, she could not help me, and I had to leave the office yet again without my new license; with the promise of returning another day when I had all my little ducks lined up in a straighter row.

 

We shared a good laugh as we proceeded to the closest nursing home on our rounds. I’m beginning to wonder why I even need a driver’s license since I rarely drive…but it’s that rarely for which I am planning ahead. I live to try again another day.

 

God is so funny sometimes, thwarting our human efforts to supply our own needs, so that we will rely solely on Him to work out everything for our ultimate good.

 

Stay tuned for … the rest of the story!!! …kat

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Deeper into the Water of Life

The intimidating aspect of moving deeper into the Water of Life is that buoyancy takes over and we often lose our footing. The water is murky in places and visually obscures the solid ground from our sight.

 

Tired of the spiritual battles, we may experience discouragement; our friends and family may discourage us, and we may discourage others from entering any deeper into the River of Life.

 

Satan will also discourage us and sidetrack us with the world and our flesh. Apathy is his greatest tool for rendering us ineffectual for helping the Kingdom of God to grow in the earth (Ephesians 6:10-18).

 

Thankfully, God’s Spirit coaxes us to let go of our negative emotions and secret sins, and eventually we have no more desire to allow Satan to sidetrack us with his destructive behavior.

 

A temptation at this stage in our development is to grow obese from over-feeding on constant Bible studies and not using this spiritual food to energize our service in God’s Kingdom.

 

We may also fall into spiritual pride because of our wealth of knowledge of God’s Word. We may look down on others, and even criticize our church family and its leadership.

 

As we continue deeper into the water, surrendering our will to the will of God gets easier with time. We increase in His peace rather than experiencing the stress of today’s hectic and grueling schedule.

 

Our self-worth and true identity come from Christ in us rather than from our own talents or lack of giftedness. We pray and learn to discern God’s voice.

 

We come to understand that prayer is the greatest ministry anyone can serve in, because God trusts us with His attention and concerns.

 

Praise and worship become daily habits, no longer reserved for Sundays alone, because we cherish our deepening relationship with the Trinity.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You have a plan for each life and we can seek You and walk in it (Ephesians 2:10). As we continue into the deeper waters, You walk with us and in us. You teach us to pray without ceasing and to communicate to others what You teach us on a daily basis (Hebrews 5:12-14).

 

Remind us that to share our testimony of Your love, peace and provision for our life is just as important as having the ability to write or to teach Your Word (John 14:27). You call us to daily take up our cross and to walk in tune with Your Spirit’s direction for each moment of our day (Luke 9:23; Galatians 5:15-25).

 

Thought for the Day:

As we increase our spiritual disciplines, and trust God with our walk in His Spirit, we attend more than one church service a week, read our Bible every day, serve in a ministry in our local church, reach out to help the needy in our community, and pray and trust God to direct our steps.

– Psalm 37:23; Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

Trusting God with the Results

Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is much more intense than practicing a religion. What we do and say matters more than we realize. Our words and actions impact the lives of everyone around us.

 

A curt word in place of encouragement, a smirk instead of a smile, or a phony attitude rather than authentic interest will put a wedge between others and us. It may also negatively influence their relationship with Christ

 

How long are we willing to wait for God? Wait…without being distracted by TV, radio, food, friends, family, the mall, work or any other created thing. Wait…for the Creator of heaven and earth to fill us through all of our being, with all of His fullness (Ephesians 3:16-19, Amplified Bible).

 

It may take a day, a week, a month or a year. Are we willing to completely empty our soul of negative attitudes, beliefs and emotions and then wait for Him to entirely fill us with His presence?

 

Wait… pouring out our heart to our Heavenly Father, praising Him for who He is and what He does for us. Then, sitting motionlessly, silently and listening. What will distract us?

 

Will the phone, hunger pains, stiff muscles, a headache, a knock at the door, sirens in the distance or any other diversion draw us away from sitting quietly before the Lord?

 

God has a perfect will for every moment of every day of our life. This requires focused attention on His Spirit’s leading us as we walk in that will. We start by sitting quietly and waiting on Him.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You want us to break out of playing religion in our churches and in our lives. You call us to go deeper into the living water of life and to allow You to carry us to unknown places of service and worship. You call us to a deeper and deeper relationship with You on a moment-by-moment basis.

 

Help us to set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:2), on the eternal aspects of life. Then we can rise above the limitations of this mundane earthly realm. Direct us, as You did Ezekiel, to enter the river and to go deeper and deeper into the water until he could no longer stand, but must start to swim, trusting You with the results (Ezekiel 47:1-12).

 

Thought for the Day:

God is interested in us living in oneness with Christ. Our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. He lives within us. We are not our own, we are God’s unique possession. – 1 Corinthians 6:19